Demand for ‘iPhone 5’ hits a feverish pitch

Advance demand for Apple’s next iPhone is at an all-time high, said a research firm today, predicting huge sales later this year for what most have dubbed the “iPhone 5.”

A survey of more than 4,000 North American consumers by ChangeWaveResearch showed a record enthusiasm for Apple’s next-generationsmartphone, with nearly a third saying they were likely to buy one.

“Advance demand for the ‘iPhone 5‘ is strikingly higherthan we’ve seenfor any previous iPhone model,” said Paul Carton, ChangeWave’s vicepresident of research, in an abbreviated report sent via email. Of thepeople polled, 14% said they were “very likely” to buy a newiPhone for themselves or a family member, while 17% asserted that theywere “somewhat likely” to do so.

ChangeWave described the next iPhone in broad terms, incorporating thespeculation that’s centered on a slightly-larger screen and aconnection to the faster LTE mobile data networks, as well as thenear-certainty that it will be powered by iOS 6, the next version ofApple’s operating system.

Apple’s current model, the iPhone4S, does not support LTE, although the company addedit to the new iPad, which debuted last March. The 31% totalof those who said they were likely to buy the iPhone 5was 44% higher than the 21.5% who answered the same way in a surveyChangeWave conducted last year just before the launch of the iPhone 4S.

“The biggest finding of the survey is the unprecedented level ofadvance demand for the next generation Apple iPhone, which based onthese survey numbers easily dwarfs the advance demand of any previousiPhone launch,” said Carton.

Apple does not disclose individual iPhone model sales, but in the twoquarters reported since the Oct. 4, 2011, launch of the iPhone 4S, thecompany has sold 72.1 million iPhones, its best-ever six-month stretch.Apple will reveal its second-quarter sales figures tomorrow at 2 p.m.PT during an earnings call with Wall Street analysts.The survey resultsmeshed with financial analysts’ expectations for theiPhone 5, or whatever Apple calls the next model. Brian White of TopekaCapital Markets, for instance, has forecast iPhone calls in 2012’sfinal quarter — the one during the putative launch of the smartphone– at 44.7 million units, or 21% more than the previous best of 12months earlier.

ChangeWave also asked consumers their thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone, which went on sale last month. Of the peoplepolled, 2%said they were very likely to buy a Galaxy SIII “in the future,” with another 7% acknowledging that they weresomewhat likely to do so. According to Carton, the top reason why thoseconsumers said they wouldbuy the Samsung smartphone was the size and quality of the screen.

Samsung demand through the roof
Yesterday, Samsung revealed that it had sold10 million Galaxy S III handsets globally in its first twomonths of availability, a mark the preceding Galaxy S II took fivemonths to reach.

When all Samsung phones are taken into account, the Asian company’sfortunes are even brighter: 19% of those polled who said they wereplanning on buying a smartphone in the next 90 days selected Samsung asthe maker. That’s an all-time high for Samsung in ChangeWave’stracking, andnearly four times that of a year ago.

Other smartphone makers scored poorly in ChangeWave’s latest survey,with just 4% of those polled citing Motorola and 3% HTC as their vendorof choice. Motorola, which is now owned by Google, was down twopercentage points from a March poll, while HTC was flat.

Nokia, which has tied its success to Microsoft’s Windows Phone mobileoperating system, was up one point from March to 2%, said Carton. Thedominance of Apple and Samsung — especially the former — amongconsumers planning future smartphone purchases pointed to a two-horserace at this point, said Carton.

“The huge wave of pent-up demand for the coming iPhone launch hasimportant implications for the rest of the industry … and puts anumber of second-tier smartphone manufacturers at increased risk ofcoming in below plan for the year,” Carton said.

Apple has not announced when it will launch the next iPhone, much lessits name or feature set. Most experts, however, expect the company tofollow the same schedule as last year. Apple introduced the iPhone 4Son Oct. 4, 2011, and started selling the device on Oct. 14. If thecompany hews to the 2011 timetable, it would announce the newiPhone Oct 2, 2012, and kick off sales Oct. 12.

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